Every time you drive in your car and hit a pothole on a city street, I am betting you get really grumpy. You wonder why the city hasn’t done repairs to maintain the roads. Cuss word, cuss word. At the end of the day, all you remember about your community is that darn pothole. You have conveniently forgotten why your city is one to be proud of. Great schools, thriving businesses, landscaped parks, a new convention center…that damn pothole.
We’ve all heard that first impressions are important. Well, I’m here to tell you… it’s LAST impressions that matter. Ok, just hear me out. How many times have you met someone, only to forget their name 20 minutes later? Once you part ways, you think about the great conversation with …. with … with Mr. Cafe’ Latte’ in the blue blazer. Was the blue jacket the first thing your introduction consisted of? Probably not. After several minutes of talk, a coffee order ensued. Your acquaintance was likely holding that empty Styrofoam cup when you parted ways. That’s a last impression, AND a lasting one.
Now let’s apply that to our customer base. Always – ALWAYS – great your customer pleasantly. Do the assigned work, fill out your service ticket, and explain your processes to your client. Leave a last (and lasting) impression on them that doesn’t let them question hiring you. A clean uniform and vehicle are a great place to start. Equipment in working order is a must. Breakdowns happen, but you should be prepared to manage those “what ifs” with the proper tools and extra parts. Don’t ever ask the customer for tools or spare parts. That scene will make them grumpy, and you just became the hole in the road.
Managing a first impression is important, but last impressions are even more important. There is a training opportunity for you by asking the customer how they feel about your quality of work. It will help you grow. It gets the customer engaged in your process, and that means they will see value in what you do. Lasting impressions are about the client “buy in” of why, how, and what we do. Now – how do I get that pothole fixed?
Your bank requires insurance on your home and auto if you hold a loan with them. You take the time to invoice all your valuables so insurance policies will cover damage and losses of said items. That fancy smart watch on your wrist comes with a manufacturer’s warranty if there are defects. You bought the extra warranty for computer you are using to read this blog post because you want additional protection from the fact that “stuff happens”.
ANSWER ME THIS
So… here’s my question to you – ALL of you: Why didn’t you schedule an annual pest control inspection? Take a minute to compose your answer. I’ll wait.
What’s it worth to know your property is protected? Homeowner policies don’t cover pest control damage because insurance companies determine that pest damage is preventable. That’s right…..PREVENTABLE. Yes, even in your home, stuff happens.
Termite damage, carpenter ant damage , carpenter bee damage isn’t covered in a homeowner’s insurance policy. It isn’t something the homeowner can add to a policy like flood or water damage. Simply put… There is NO coverage for pest damage.
GET THE INSPECTION
Some pest companies charge for an inspection without service, some don’t. The criteria for this varies based on location & which company is called to do the inspection. It is up to you as the homeowner, to make sure you understand what the inspection covers and if a warranty is included. Making sure you get what you are paying for is key.
Annual home pest inspections aren’t required by homeowner’s insurance. I talked to my own insurance agent about this. As a State Farm agent, she said she wasn’t aware of any instances where a homeowner tried to submit a claim for insect or other pest damages. In Kansas (my state of residence), the only pest damage that IS covered with my insurance policy is from a wild bear.
Pest control inspections are comparable to those insurance policies and warranties. They offer protection and peace of mind for your property , which is likely your biggest investment. Pest control inspections, with or without regular chemical applications, can give you the information to keep your property intact. We all want our homes to be a safe, livable space for years to come. Pest control inspections are one step to do that.
Those annual pest control inspections cost less than the warranty for that new laptop computer you just bought. You will be replacing electronics every few years due to outdated technology, and buying yet another insurance or warranty policy to cover damages and defects. Doesn’t your home deserve the same consideration?
While the husband went deer hunting, I was getting ready for a local small business event where I am able to promote my business. I am still growing my client list, and these public encounters really help. I had all of my swag and marketing materials boxed up. It was the usual stuff – pens, notepads, business cards. I also had ice scrapers, rulers, and flyswatters. Yes… flyswatters. I was hesitant about bringing them. After all, it is the start of winter.
Some of the goodies I had ready was some holiday decor, pest control equipment and products I commonly use. The truck was loaded and I was ready. I usually get nervous in public settings, but I knew this was going to be really fun.
I came prepared for a great event. My table was set.
My daughter Ashly and I had swag bags ready to go. Those that agreed to answer a trivia question (and got the answer correct) received a goodie bag. We made sure that no one walked away empty handed. We gave out rulers. Potential new customers needed to know that Horizon Pest Solutions really does “measure up”.
Not everyone wanted a cookie. “OMG! These have bugs!”, was a common response. I thought they were fabulously awesome. Two ladies who – I can only guess- were friends, used the flyswatters for a fight. This interaction was similar to children hitting each other with a Christmas wrapping paper tube. I did notice that a couple of alcoholic beverages were involved.
I wanted everyone to have a good time. I think the endgame was successful. I helped a friend of mine in her business, too. I purchased a couple of holiday wreaths from her to give away. There were raffles for pest control traps and other items. While I do have a pesticide dealer permit, no chemicals were included.
A lady who won a wreath came dancing all the way to our table to collect her prize. That’s the type of fun I was hoping for by participating in this event.
When I got the idea for trivia, I was worried that I couldn’t come up with enough questions that the general public could answer. I was so wrong. Once I started writing, I ended up with 90…yes, 90 questions. That’s only 10 fewer than what are on a Certified Applicator exam.
One by one, the participants agreed to answer some trivia. Some were uncertain they knew anything about pest control. “You know more than you think,” I told them.
True or False -“Robins can be kept as pets?” I asked. A woman answered, “You can not. Don’t ask me how I know.”
True or False – Spiders sometimes use cannibalism to survive. TRUE
True or False – Some types of soft ticks feed on rattlesnakes or turtles? TRUE
True or False – Pheromones are only used to trap insects? FALSE they are designed as a monitoring tool.
The State of Kansas has only 1 female Associate Certified Entomologist. Who is it? IT’S ME! MELISA ARNOLD
What’s something you do every day that is so natural you barely know you’re involved in the activity? For me, it’s opening and closing the refrigerator door a thousand times a day. Not because I’m hungry. It’s more about boredom. This behavior started as a kid to annoy my mom. I still wonder, “Does the light really shut off when I close the door?”
Over the years, I’ve developed a muscle memory towards this behavior. I do it….just because. No rhyme or reason.
I LOVE CARTOONS
Rodents have a muscle memory, too. When it comes to their chosen path of travel, they choose one that is safe and familiar. I have seen mice run so fast that they actually hop over a multi catch trap…and keep going like the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales. It’s hard to know what, or who, is chasing them.
Mice use that learned behavior to duck into safe places, too. Well, a place they think is safe. Like Jerry trying to get away from Tom, mice will turn a corner at high speed and find the nearest opening to get out of harm’s way. Their beady little eyes will eventually look out to make sure the coast is clear.
While Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr. and Thomas The Cat never really caught their nemesis, we as pest control professionals have many tricks up our sleeves that help us be effective. We don’t work in a cartoon world, but the work can be just as amusing.
IT’S ALL IN THE “HOW”
Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to be effective at trapping and catching an elusive mouse. It can be a challenge, but patience is key. The easiest part of this task is making sure you have all the right tools and equipment needed.
If you’ve got any amount of tenure in pest management, I’m sure you have favorite brands and types of products to use. It really doesn’t matter what company’s products are used. It matters HOW you use them. It matters that the equipment is fully functional. It matters that you have the right bait – toxic or not. I matters that you are monitoring these devices regularly.
WHO MOVED MY CHEESE
In my course of trials and errors, mice rarely went for the trap where cheese was used as bait. I’ve had better luck with cotton balls soaked in vanilla or chocolate syrup. I have tried other items like beef jerky, slightly chewed gum, jelly, grains, plastic wrap, and paper.
Do you wanna know what worked the best for me? A little bit of flour mixed with mineral oil. Yep, that’s right, part of the mixture to make a basic cookie recipe. Move over cheese, cookies are taking your place. Now, to decide….chocolate chip or oatmeal?
I was born on National Hangover Day, Year of the Hippie. That makes me 52 years old as I write this.(gasp) I’m ok with telling you my age, because I look 30. My goal is to live happy and healthy, so when I am 70 people will think I’m 50.
A well lived life can be a blessing or a curse, and I’ve said a few (too many) curse words in all my years. I am blessed that I get to be part of an industry I love. Oh, yea, it’s pest control. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing otherwise.
AGE WILL CATCH YOU
I was touring a facility so I could give a bid for monthly pest control services. As I was taking notes, my company tour guide was intrigued. He pointed to an opaque square box on the floor, “I don’t know what those are.” I leaned to pick it up & slid the top open. It was a mouse trap…. One that had the remnants of what was a mouse.
As I showed it to my guide, “Hmmm,” was the response. The stickers on the inside had dates that were more than 15 years old, and a barcode system had taken its place. “Upgrading your pest equipment will get you more efficacy,” I quipped, “and better data.”
The response, “I’m in favor of good data and less mice running around.”
ALMOST NOTHING LASTS FOREVER
Did you know that almost everything has an expiration date? Food, safety equipment, batteries, household cleaners, electronics, even boxed wine. It’s true. Food products usually get devoured, and safety equipment gets worn and broken long before that date comes. Household cleaners, including laundry soap, get used pretty fast, but manufacturers still institute that date.
I emailed Jessica Terry, a Sales Manager from Kness Pest Defense, and Liz Turner, a Regional Manager from Catchmaster, to ask if multi catch traps had an expiration date. I was surprised to find out they did not. The only recommendation from both companies was to replace a multi catch if it was damaged, excessively dirty, or otherwise non-functional.
Manufacturing processes vary by product and company. Some have the Date of Manufacturing stamped on them, including the initials of the person who assembled the unit. How awesome is it that humans do the assembly? That was a fun fact to know. Pest control is a human business that starts with an actual person putting together the equipment we use!
TO CATCH A MOUSE FOR YEARS TO COME
Would the constant influx of rodents going into a trap make it unusable after a certain amount of time? The sebum build up on the counterweight would make it gummy. I suppose that would require replacement under the sanitation category. (Why aren’t you cleaning it?) If mice are still attracted to a multi catch, it must be working correctly, right? Maybe, maybe not.
With the product manufacturer’s information in mind, I can’t help but question if there should be additional criteria on when to replace a multi catch. Well, I guess that depends on the environmental factors surrounding the placement of a multi catch device. Every multi catch location requires a why assessment of where because of what. That initial inspection will give the PCO answers about proper placement.
Dan Crew, General Manager for Kness Manufacturing, Company in Albia, IA advises the PCO to periodically check for cleanliness and functionality. “We’ve had traps in the field for generations that are still in use today,” he says.
Catchmaster multi catch products are made with galvanized steel and can be subject to rusting in environments with high humidity. Liz Turner recommends using the powder coated version for these placements, as they are rust resistant.
DON’T BE TRAP SHY
We all know the pest control technician who is only on a route for the commission sales. Maybe you’ve been that technician. I won’t lie… that was me. Of course, we all know better now. Huh? Properly servicing pest control devices is crucial to client satisfaction. Those third party auditors also appreciate a well oiled pest control program, as do our managers.
My first set of management didn’t really care about pest control for the facility I was originally trained for. I didn’t care either. Since 2008, I have learned a few things about catching a mouse. Clean, functional, well placed multi catch devices are just the beginning. Even the well intended pest control technician can’t be, or become, and shouldn’t be, trap shy.
IS IT TIME TO REPLACE?
Take a look at the mouse traps placed throughout your accounts. Are they really working? Is the counterweight stuck or missing parts? Have you cleaned them? Does the lid shut correctly? (An AIB auditor deducted points on me for this) Is the placement correct with holes to the back? Is it too badly damaged?
These factors and many others are some inspection items that should be completed. A quick way to assess all of these: Shut the lid: Hold it up: Look at the teeter totter: Can you see through it?
In Summary: It doesn’t matter what your age, it matters how you look and move. This goes for your multi catch devices, too. The more you know, the more you grow.